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Korea sends protest letter to Vietnam over plane forced to turn back

Noi Bai International Airport in Hanoi, Vietnam (Noi Bai International Airport website)
Noi Bai International Airport in Hanoi, Vietnam (Noi Bai International Airport website)

South Korea’s Land, Infrastructure and Transport Minister Kim Hyun-mi contacted her Vietnamese counterpart to express regret over a recent incident where a Korean air carrier was denied permission to land in Hanoi and was forced to turn back, government sources said Tuesday.

In a letter to the Vietnamese aviation authorities, Kim wrote that it presented “a serious safety issue to order a plane to land in an unfamiliar airport while it is in flight.” 

She reportedly also wrote that “it is discrimination to allow other flag carriers to land in Hanoi but to ban Korean air carriers that have departed from Incheon (from landing),” mentioning the friendly relationship that the two countries had built up over the years.

On Saturday, Vietnamese authorities asked Asiana Airlines Flight 729 heading to Noi Bai International Airport in Hanoi to detour to Van Don International Airport, only two hours after takeoff at 10:30 a.m.

The plane had to return to Incheon because the air carrier “did not have experience landing at the airport,” according to an Asiana official. 

Government officials said Kim also sent a letter to the US aviation authorities asking them to allow the swift entry of Korean nationals to the country and not to impose any restrictions on the landing of air carriers departing from Incheon. 

She also wrote that despite the spike in the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Korea, those cases are concentrated in Daegu and North Gyeongsang Province and can be “fully controlled,” a government official said. 

By Kim Da-sol (ddd@heraldcorp.com)
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